Freedom for the Daffodils!

Einstein has remembered us
Savior of the daffodils!
—William Carlos Williams
St. Francis Einstein of the Daffodils (first version)

Innisfree opened early, and the daffodils are out!

In March’s black boat
Einstein and April
have come at the time in fashion
up out of the sea
through the rippling daffodils
in the foreyard of
the dead Statue of Liberty
whose stonearms
are powerless against them
the Venusremembering wavelets
breaking into laughter —

Sweet Land of Liberty,
at last, in the end of time,
Einstein has come by force of
complicated mathematics
among the tormented fruit trees
to buy freedom
for the daffodils
till the unchained orchards
shake their tufted flowers —
Yiddishe springtime!

At the time in fashion
Einstein has come
bringing April in his head
up from the sea
in Thomas March Jefferson’s
black boat bringing
freedom under the dead
Statue of Liberty
to free the daffodils in
the water which sing:
Einstein has remembered us
Savior of the daffodils!

Excerpt from William Carlos Williams, St. Francis Einstein of the Daffodils (first version)

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Listening List

Francis Poulenc, Sinfonietta FP 141 (1947-1948)


I. Allegro con fuoco
II. Molto vivace
III. Andante cantabile
IV. Très vite et très gai

Orchestration: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinet (B), 2 bassoons 2 horns (F), 2 trumpets (C), timpani, harp, strings

A commission from the BBC in 1947, the four-movement work occupies a strange
place in the composer’s oeuvre in its Neo-Classical leanings, and its undeniable whimsy that would contrast sharply some of the works that were to follow in the 1950s. . . . 1948 saw the premiere of the work in London, as well as Poulenc’s first concert tour of the United States, boosting his international reputation. The title’s diminutive reference reveals much about Poulenc’s motivation for the work, which, like many his other pieces, seems to revel in the study of musical character and orchestration, rather than aiming toward symphonic formal cohesion. Poulenc unapologetically weaves in modal passages between waves of lush, romantic harmonies, and carries the listener from an aggressive descending phrase in the opening Allegro to a finale apropos of Haydn in its folksiness. Tucked in to the inner movements are the broad, haunting theme in the Andante cantabile as well as the brief misterioso moments in his scherzo.

The complete program notes from which the above excerpt is taken are here.


Credits: The sources for quotations may be found at the links in the text. As always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, the photographs (in this case, of Innisfree taken on three days, 4/15, 16, and 23) are mine.

In Sicilia: Imagination Unbound

Museo Regionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Belmonte-Riso, internal courtyard

Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein

On our return trip from Siracusa to Palermo, we could see, off in the distance, a great flat-topped mountain, covered with snow. When, later, we consulted our map, we realized it must have been Mt. Etna. Continue reading

In Sicilia: Siracusa, at the Teatro Greco and on the Waterfront

Teatro Greco

Cold, blustery weather required us to postpone a visit to the Neapolis Archeological Site, but we got lucky the following day. Continue reading

In Sicilia: First Days in Siracusa

Cattedrale di Siracusa

As we’d decided not to rent a car, we traveled cross-island to Siracusa via a big, comfortable bus. In Siracusa, we were once again lucky in our lodgings: a light-filled apartment with views of the Ortigia Harbor. First on our list was on-foot exploration, with the sole required stops to see the Burial of St. Lucy, by Caravaggio (1571-1610), and to visit the local market. Continue reading

Transcendental Geometry: Contemporaneous at Murray’s 2017

It was a stroke of luck to have happened on Contemporaneous when the ensemble was still at Bard and barely six months old. That was in 2010, and it’s an ongoing cause for celebration that this treasurable rara avis, a chamber orchestra dedicated solely to new music, has not only survived, but is thriving today. Over that time, as Contemporaneous continues to amass significant musical accomplishments, we, as listeners, reap the benefit in an ongoing series of musical gifts. The April 15, 2017, concert at Murray’s in Tivoli was but the latest in a long, glittering string. Continue reading